Aston Martin Vantage N24 (2008) review

Published:21 April 2008

Aston Martin Vantage N24 (2008) review
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We at CAR have a soft spot for the Aston Martin Vantage N24. Back in 2006 we sensed there was a story brewing when Aston Martin announced that it would enter a road-legal V8 Vantage in the legendary Nurburgring 24-hour race. We followed Aston to Germany and even mucked in with pitstops during the race weekend, but little did we know that the V8's success (24th out of 220) would morph into something much, much bigger.

Since 2006, the N24 has been back to the 24-hour race at the 'Ring, spawned a one-make championship (the Aston Martin Asia Cup) and this year the car is eligible to compete in the new GT4 category of sports car racing, the Britcar series, the Dutch Supercar Challenge, the Australian GT Championship and the US Grand-Am Cup. At the time of writing, Aston Martin has built 47 N24s at Gaydon… the British company only planned on building 24.

Hang on. Are we talking about a race car or a road car?

Well, this is where it gets interesting. The N24 is a stripped-out racer with modified suspension and engine parts, but Aston Martin is, in their words, 'pleased' to offer Single Vehicle Approval as an after-market option. The SVA process homologates the car for road use, meaning the customer gets a bonafide racecar for the road. Just think about it: from Sainsbury's to Spa...

So what's involved with the SVA process?

It's effectively 're-speccing' the car for road use. This includes supply and fitment of a handbrake, number plate lights, indicators, a horn, a standard steering column including security lock, fixed driver's side window (rather than a sliding Perspex item), fuel filler restrictor, and some catalytic converter tweaks to make it meet noise and emission regs.

The standard N24 fully hand-built at Gaydon costs approximately £100,000 depending on options; the SVA conversion (by Works Service or any dealer) costs another £9000, including the various paperwork and transport costs.

Click 'Next' below to read the rest of our Aston Martin Vantage N24 drive

Click here to see a preview of the May 2008 issue of CAR Magazine where we take an exclusive look at Aston Martin's Paul Ricard test session with the company's LMP1, GT1, GT2, GT3 and GT4 racers

Right. I want one. Badly.

You should. The N24 is fabulous. We recently drove the actual car that we crewed on during 2006 Nurburgring 24-hour race and it's simply a dream.

It's agile, forgiving, balanced and - despite this particular car's 23,488 miles (most of them flat-chat) - there's ample performance from the tweaked 4280cc V8.

The crankshaft, conrods and pistons are lightened and balanced, the cylinder heads are re-profiled and the engine management system is recalibrated for racing. Maximum power jumps from 380 to 410bhp.

There's also a free-flow exhaust and air filters, meaning the N24 makes a glorious noise: a metallic, pulsing, rasping V8 thunder. 

So how does the Aston N24 handle?

We tried the car on semi-slick race tyres, and there's little doubt the N24’s stiff VH platform positively enjoys the extra grip afforded by the tyres. The car handles in a flat, unfussed, complete manner; never unruly but always entertaining. The N24 is 280kg lighter than the standard V8, but at 1350kg this is not a flyweight racer. However, the suspension (with larger-diameter anti-roll bars and ride height-adjustable dampers) contains this weight extremely well, allowing the driver to concentrate on driving, rather than worrying about crashing.

Switch off the dynamic stability control and traction control and it can be coaxed into some fantastic drifts and powerslides; keep the gizmos switched on and on wet track days you’ll whup all but the most committed driver.

Verdict

You need to get your priorities straight before you get your chequebook out. If it’s a road–oriented car for occasional track days you’re looking for, get an Aston Martin N400 or a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. The N24 is a race car, pure and simple – even a passenger seat is an option…

However, the N24 could be your passport to a tantalising world of GT racing. And let’s not forget that it’s an Aston Martin you’ll be racing, with all the kudos, beauty and thunder associated with the brand.

Would you get your N24 SVA’d for road use? We would – just to see the look of amazement on the faces of your rivals as you drive to a GT event, race the car, and drive it home.

Click 'Next' below to see the Vantage N24's full spec sheet

Click here to see a preview of the May 2008 issue of CAR Magazine where we take an exclusive look at Aston Martin's Paul Ricard test session with the company's LMP1, GT1, GT2, GT3 and GT4 racers

Full Vantage N24 spec:

BODY: FIA approved full roll-cage in 40 mm x 1.5 mm 15CDV6 high-strength steel • Preparation for pneumatic jacks incorporating tapping plates • Motorsport towing eyes • Polycarbonate side and rear windows - with slide opening on driver's side • Re-styled side sill with exposed carbonfibre rib • Quick-release bonnet/tail safety latching with hinges retained • Lightweight aluminium side strakes

ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: Cylinder heads; re-profiled and smoothed inlet and exhaust ports and optimised compression ratio • Crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons and flywheel lightened and balanced to race standards • ITG cylindrical foam air filters • Reduced cell density primary catalysts • Revised engine calibration (97 RON fuel) • EGR and secondary air system removed • Simplified oil breather system with catch tank • Weight-reduced rear muffler without by-pass valves • Air-conditioning system removed • FIA-approved ATL bag type fuel tank with twin fuel pumps - 100-litre (22-gallon) capacity. Filling point built into the right-hand C post with facility to accept a quick-fill 'dry break' arrangement • Standard six-speed manual transmission - fitted with breather catch tank Valeo twin-plate cerametallic clutch (215 mm) with lightweight flywheel

SUSPENSION: Single-rate, flat ground, 2.5 in ID Eibach springs with separate helper springs • Stiffened front and rear anti-roll bars  • Bilstein Suspensions adjustable ride height aluminium dampers • Front subframe modified for extra camber and castor

WHEELS & TYRES: Speedline 10in x 18in ET45 mm cast magnesium front wheels • Speedline 11in x 18in ET48 mm cast magnesium rear wheels  • Yokohama A048-R tyres • Standard radial-mounted four-piston monobloc calipers fitted with high-performance Pagid RS 29 race pads

ELECTRICAL: Reduced weight and optimised route wiring harness  • Optima gel battery • Battery cut-off relay • New switch panel mounted in centre console incorporating re-settable circuit breakers for each fuel pump, extinguisher button, battery cut-off button, heater controls, mirror switch and toggle switches for foglights, hazard lights, traction control and heated front screen • Panel graphics illuminated by electroluminescent film • Original V8 Vantage instrument pack • All other standard production ancillary electrical systems removed

INTERIOR: Recaro Pole Position competition shell seat embroidered with Aston Martin logo • Schroth six-point safety harness - push-button release • FIA compliant Lifeline Zero 360 plumbed-in extinguisher system (gas) - four engine bay and two interior nozzles • Raised driver's footrest • New simple door casings moulded in 'Twintex' for weight saving and compatibility with roll-cage • Weight-reduced facia, trimmed in Alcantara • Shortened one-piece carbon fibre centre console • Quick-release, suede-trimmed steering wheel • All other standard production trim and airbags removed

OPTIONS: Passenger seat and safety harness • Automated manual Sportshift transmission • Dry break fuel filler • Duel fuel filler • HANS seat and safety harness • Air jacks including lance • Pair of N24 xenon sport lights • Indoor car cover • Outdoor car cover

Click here to see a preview of the May 2008 issue of CAR Magazine where we take an exclusive look at Aston Martin's Paul Ricard test session with the company's LMP1, GT1, GT2, GT3 and GT4 racers

Specs

Price when new: £100,000
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 4280cc V8, 410bhp, 313lb ft
Transmission: Robotised or manual six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 4.0secs 0-60mph (est), 185mph
Weight / material: 1350kg/aluminium, steel, composite, magnesium alloy
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4380mm/1865mm/1210mm

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Photo Gallery

  • Aston Martin Vantage N24 interior
  • Aston Martin Vantage N24 side
  • Aston Martin Vantage N24 engine
  • Aston Martin Vantage N24 interior
  • Aston Martin Vantage N24 wheel
  • Aston Martin Vantage N24
  • Aston Martin Vantage N24 rear
  • Aston Martin Racing at Paul Ricard
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